52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #17 – Ora Simpson Strait

Relationship: Great-grandfather

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Depending on what documents that are examined, Ora Simpson Strait has a number of possible birth dates. His tombstone only has a year, 1879, on it.[1] Examination of census information yields the following information:

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The most direct piece of evidence comes from Ora’s United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America membership statement. It states he was born on 26 January 1879. His membership booklet (privately held) is pictured to the right and is dated 20 October 1917.Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 2.19.56 PM

So, you may ask, what does a carpenter do compared to what a joiner does? Well, the carpenter worked from a building’s foundation to its roof ridge. He laid floors, chiseled mortise-and-tenon joints, framed walls, raised rafters, carved moldings, hung doors, and nailed weatherboard.

A joiner is a sub-specialty of the field of carpentry. Joiners would finish interiors by joining together pieces of wood and might work on door and window frames and staircases and other wood pieces within a house or building.

Before he was a carpenter though, Ora worked as a school teacher for a time.[5] He is shown here (one of the men in the back row) with his class in Vernon taken about 1897, in front of the old building which formerly stood next to the Methodist Church.[6]

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Ora was 28 years old when he married Audrey Romine Hunt (http://wp.me/p4WHi0-1G), daughter of William H. Hunt and Hannah J. Longcor, on 17 June 1907 in a ceremony conducted by the Rev. E. E. Lowans at Audrey’s home in Branchville Junction, Sussex, New Jersey.[7]

Announcement - STRAIT-HUNT

Audrey and Ora Strait were the parents of the following children:

  1. Bernice Strait, born on 05 December 1908 in Lafayette;[8] died on 28 April 1979 in Newton.[9] She married Robert William Wood.[10]
  2. William Charles Strait, born on 17 July 1910 in Lake Grinnell, Sussex County, New Jersey;[11] died on 29 May 1961 n Newton.[12] He married Beatrice Irene Repsher on 12 October 1935 in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey.[13]
  3. Carl Hope Strait, born on 20 December 1913 in Branchville Junction;[14] died on 07 August 2001 in Andover Township, Sussex County, New Jersey.[15] He married Sarah E. Decker.[16]
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Ora Simpson with Bernice, William and Carl and his mother-in-law Hannah Jane (Longcor) Hunt.

Besides working as a school teacher and before taking up carpentry, Ora worked on a farm. He was doing general work on a farm according to the 1910 census.[17]

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Ora Simpson Strait taking care of the yard work.

Ora Simpson Strait died on 07 Sep 1918 in Newton, Sussex, New Jersey, of carcinoma of the liver[18] at a very young 39 years of age. He was interred in the North Hardyston Cemetery.[19]

STRAIT Ora S. and Audrey R.


[1] North Hardyston Cemetery (Rt. 94, Hamburg, New Jersey), Ora S. Strait and Audrey R. Hunt marker; photo taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, July 2006.
[2] New Jersey. Sussex County. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule. Ira Strait. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2005.
[3] New Jersey. Sussex County. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule. Ira W. Strait. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2005.
[4] New Jersey. Sussex County. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule. Ora Strait. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2005.
[5] New Jersey. Sussex County. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule. Ira W. Strait. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2005.
[6] “Out of the Past,” news article, July 1956 newspaper clipping of a re-printed photo, unidentified newspaper [most likely New Jersey Herald or The Star Ledger].
[7] “STRAIT-HUNT,” marriage announcement, Sussex Register, 20 June 1907, p. 5, col. 5; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.
[8] Social Security Administration, “Social Security Death Index (SSDI),” database, Rootsweb.com (http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com), entry for Bernice Wood, 1979, SS no. 136-12-4625.
[9] “Bernice Wood,” obituary, undated newspaper clipping, unidentified newspaper [most likely the New Jersey Herald]. Also: Social Security Administration, “Social Security Death Index (SSDI),” Database, Rootsweb.com (http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com), entry for Bernice Wood, 1979, SS no. 136-12-4625
[10] “Robert Wood,” obituary, undated newspaper clipping, unidentified newspaper [most likely the New Jersey Herald].
[11] New Jersey, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Birth Registrations, birth certificate (1910), William Charles Strait. Parents are listed as Ora S. Strait and Audrey R. Hunt.
[12] St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cemetery (Woodside Avenue or Rt. 206, Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey), William and Beatrice Strait marker; photograph taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, July 2006.
[13] Marriage certificate for William Strait and Beatrice Repsher, church issued certificate, family papers collection, 1935; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ.[14] Social Security Administration, “Social Security Death Index (SSDI),” Database, Rootsweb.com (http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com), entry for Carl H. Strait, 2001, SS no. 136-16-1618.
[15] “Carl Strait,” obituary, newspaper clipping, 09 August 2001 (penned), unidentified newspaper [most likely New Jersey Herald]; Strait family newspaper clipping, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, 6961 W. West Arrow, Tucson, AZ, 2011.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.
[16] “Sarah Strait,” obituary, newspaper clipping, 02 November 1986 (penned), unidentified newspaper [most likely New Jersey Herald].
[17] 1910 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Sparta, ED 182, p. 1A (penned), dwelling 7, family 9, Ora Strait; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 909.
[18] New Jersey, Department of Health, Death Certificate, death certificate no. 593 (penned), Ora S. Strait (1918).
[19] North Hardyston Cemetery (Rt. 94, Hamburg, New Jersey), Ora S. Strait and Audrey R. Hunt marker; photo taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, July 2006.

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #16 – Martha Ethel (Westra) Strait

Relationship: Mother

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Well now, since my Mom is still alive and a good genealogist protects the privacy of living individuals, I’m going to be careful on what I put in this here blogpost!

It’s no secret that Martha Ethel is the daughter of Albert Westra (http://wp.me/p4WHi0-J) and Etta Berendine Pauw (http://wp.me/p4WHi0-1B). She was born in Newton, New Jersey, after her two older brothers John (1929-1992) and Ewald (1933-1997).  Martha’s younger sister, Lena, came along afterwards.

Martha remembers the dairy farms that she lived on in Fredon that her father rented/managed. One of my favorite stories that she tells about life on the farm has to do with a big white horse that belonged her oldest brother Johnny. I love horses and, while I respect their size, they’re not very intimidating to me. Not so with Mom. John begged and pleaded with her to get on the horse and finally wore her down. With some finagling, John managed to get all four (John, Ewald, Martha and Lena) of the siblings up on the bare back of the horse. Johnny gave the horse a good swat on the rump to get it going. It did. They didn’t! Martha remembers tumbling to the ground as the horse trotted off, happy to be free of the pesky kids. That was the end of her farm animal experiences. The Westra family soon moved into town and resided at 3 Townsend Street, Newton for many years.

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Martha’s girls: Jodi, Jill and Jenni

She graduated from Newton High School and after a few years married William Charles Strait, Jr.  She worked for a time at the United Telephone Company but soon left that to become a housewife full-time and raise the three daughters that came along in the late 60s and early 70s.

Once my youngest sister, Jenni, was old enough to start school, Mom started looking for part-time work outside the home. My sisters and I attended Merriam Avenue School and the next thing we knew, Mom was a lunch lady!

A divorce from Bill in the early 1980s meant that Martha now had to find a full-time job. She started out with E. B. Brooks and then settled in working for Samsung on the assembly line making microwaves and televisions. As the company down-sized and moved offshore, Mom became a picker/packer in the one warehouse they still had open. Samsung would eventually close the warehouse and Mom then worked for Thor Laboratories for a while before retiring.  Now she stays active in the Hampton Seniors Club and loves to play cards.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #15 – John Adam Karthaeuser

Relationship: 2nd Great-grandfather
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Given the life history of my great-grandmother Anna Maria (Karthaeuser) Repsher, I wasn’t very familiar with her father, John Adam Karthaeuser. I have to thank a cousin named Eleanor G. Freeman for sending me some wonderful pictures of the Karthaueser family. This is a picture of John, alternately known as Adam, from about a year before he died.

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John Adam Karthaeuser was born on 07 April 1857 in Oggersheim, Germany[1] to parents Ludwig Karthaeuser and Katrina Adam.John Adam Karthaeuser 083

When John was 30 years old he immigrated to the United States on the ship Westernland. He left from the port in Antwerp, Belgium, and arrived in the Port of New York on 21 April 1887.[2] A. Karthaeuser (30) is listed with wife-to-be, Anna Merkenthaler (27).  His occupation is listed as clerk at this time.

John Karthaeuser and Anna Merkenthaler were married in New York City on 25 February 1892.[3] Anna is listed a being from Speyer, Germany. The 1910 U.S Federal Census shows that John had become a naturalized citizen by 21 April 1910 and had arrived in 1887.[4]

A daughter, Anna Marie, was born to John and Anna on 31 Mar 1889 in Port Richmond on Staten Island in New York.[5] They later adopted Anna Marie’s illegitimate son, Charles Ludwig, as their own and his New York state birth certificate lists his birth date as 14 February 1908.[6]

John worked at various occupations over the years. The 1900 census listed him as a hotel keeper in New York City, Richmond County, New York.[7] He was a boarding house keeper again in New York City, Richmond County, in the 1910 census.[8] Store clerk was his occupation in the 1920 census in New York City, Kings County.[9] The 1930 census shows that he was a watchmen for a printing company in Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey.[10]

He passed away on 26 June 1941 at the German Masonic Home in Tappen, Rockland County, New York.[11] The photo below shows him in front of that home shortly before his death.John Adam Karthaeuser 081


[1] “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 81, George Arthur Repsher family. New York City, New York, marriage certificate no. 124-1892 (1892), Karthaeuser-Mergenthaler, certificate number is penned.
[2] “New York, Passenger Lists,1820-1857,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 December 2014), entry for A. Karthaueser,  Microfilm series M237, Roll 505, List 436, line 126-127, Image 1024.
[3] New York City, New York, marriage certificate no. 124-1892 (1892), Karthaeuser-Mergenthaler, certificate number is penned.
[4] 1910 U. S. census, Richmond County, New York, population schedule, New York City, ED 1322, p. 7B (penned), dwelling 122, family 143, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1073.
[5] Anna Karthaeuser, SS no. 142-20-4410, 06 August 1943, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.
[6] New York, Department of Health, Birth Registrations, birth certificate 329 (1907), Charles Ludwig Karthaeuser. Issued in New York City, New York on 06 March 1907.
[7] 1900 U. S. census, Richmond County, New York, population schedule, New York City, ED 611, p. 12A (penned), dwelling 203, family 246, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1154.
[8]1910 U. S. census, Richmond County, New York, population schedule, New York City, ED 1322, p. 7B (penned), dwelling 122, family 143, Adam Karthaeuser.
[9] 1920 U. S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, ED 889, p. 9A (penned), dwelling 100, family 201, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1167.
[10] 1930 U. S. census, Hudson County, New Jersey, population schedule, Jersey City, ED 162, page 23A (penned), dwelling 210, family 467, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publicationT626, roll 1356.
[11] Eleanor G. Freeman, Mays Landing, New Jersey, to Jodi Strait, pedigree chart for Charles Karthaeuser, 09 March 2012, Karthaeuser documents and pictures.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #14 – Eliza (Menard) Hunt

Relationship: 3rd Great-grandmother
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Eliza Hunt’s obituary published 16 October 1889 in the Sussex County Register[1] simply reads as follows:

Hunt – October 3d, in Lafayette, at the residence of her son, William H. Hunt,
Mrs. Eliza Hunt, widow of Enoch Hunt, in the 86th year of her age.

Like most women in family trees, there’s not much to go on. She’s known by the men in her life, not her maiden name. If one looks only at the obituary, one gleans a only few facts about her.

  • Eliza was married to Enoch Hunt.
  • Enoch Hunt predeceased Eliza.
  • She had a son William H. Hunt.
  • She was 86 years old.
  • She died in Lafayette, New Jersey.

Those are some pretty sparse facts. But they were a start! After years of researching, I have discovered there’s so much more to her than those facts hint.

The obituary of her son William H. Hunt stated that he was “he was born in Andover, the son of Enoch Hunt and Eliza Maynard Hunt.”[2] So, I was fortunate enough to have her maiden name.

Eliza is found in the U.S. Federal census population schedules from 1850 to 1880.

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Since she died in 1889, there would be no more record of her in the U.S. Federal censuses even if the 1890 census had survived the fire that destroyed most of the records for that census year.  However, researching the military service of her sons produced a wealth of information about her!

I had found brothers William and 1/2 brothers Lyman and Theodore[7] in basic record searches earlier. I also knew that her son William H. Hunt had served during the Civil War and was “last survivor of four brothers who fought for the Union” from an article in the Railroad Employee Magazine published June of 1907.[8] This sparked a hunt (pun intended) for the remaining unknown brother who served.

William’s pension file contained an affidavit from a woman named Keziah Washer who stated that “This certifies that I, Keziah Washer, am a half-sister to William H. Hunt.”[9] Not related to Eliza directly but it did reveal one of Eliza’s step-children in her second marriage to Enoch Hunt.

Sending away for Lyman’s pension file produced an affidavit which showed a flavor for Eliza’s speaking style, provided evidence that she was quite reproductively active (not just giving birth to Lyman and William) and revealed the last brother who served was named Sidney a.k.a Henry Menard.

This affidavit[10] was taken by a Special Examiner, named F. C. Loveland, who was sent out to New Jersey in late 1882 to evaluate Eliza’s son Lyman’s claim that he got epilepsy as a result of his service and deserved an invalid’s pension. At the time of the affidavit, she was 77 years old and her signature was a bit shaky.Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 10.06.47 AM Mr. Loveland described her as having “both feet almost in the grave, has rheumatism and shaking palsy badly.” She stated that the claimant, Lyman Wood, was born 07 March 1837 and was the child of her first husband.

The special investigation was to determine if Lyman’s epilepsy existed prior to his service. Since certain types of epilepsy run in the family, Mr. Loveland asked Eliza to give him the names her children by her first husband. She listed four sons:

Charles M. Wood born 03 September 1827
David M. Wood    born 06 September 1829
Sidney B. Wood    born 16 December 1834
Lyman Wood        born 07 March 1837

She then stated that the first three “died at 32 years of age, all of them.” Mr. Loveland asked her what the cause of death of each of the others was. She told him that Charles died of bilious cholic and that David died of heart disease. Sidney was in the regular army and was killed.

Jackpot! More of William’s half-siblings popped out of the woodwork and the final brother serving in the Civil War was discovered: Sidney B. Wood. I hadn’t known about Charles and David but now had birth dates and roughly knew when each had died based on Eliza testifying that they all were 32 when they died.

But what else would Eliza reveal since this information was only the first page of the affidavit? Mr. Loveland continued by asking if any of them, aside from Lyman, had fits. She replied, “Charles is the only one aside from Lyman.” While Mr. Loveland neglected to ask her first husband’s name, he did ask Eliza what had caused her first husband’s death. “Cramps,” was the reply. “He was only sick two days and it took several men to hold him on the bed. He was at work in the hay first and drank too much water, got the cramps and died, so I tell you.”

After asking some questions about the nature and duration of Lyman’s fits, Mr. Loveland then asked Eliza, “What children had you by your second husband?” She replied that there was only one living, William Henry Hunt. Mr. Loveland then asked, “The children by your second husband who have died – at what age did they die?” More siblings emerged as Eliza replied, “One a year old and the other two years and over.” She then stated their causes of death. “One died of severe brain trouble and the other suddenly. I don’t know of what.” She added, “They didn’t have fits.”

While Eliza didn’t give the names of the two siblings, or whether they were male or female, I now had more of Eliza’s children. In summary, I now had a growing list of Eliza’s children and step-children:

Name:                                       Parents
Charles M. Wood                     ________ Wood and Eliza Menard
David M. Wood                        ________ Wood and Eliza Menard
Sidney B. Wood                        ________ Wood and Eliza Menard
Lyman Wood                            ________ Wood and Eliza Menard
Keziah (Hunt) Washer            Enoch Hunt (Eliza’s 2nd husband) and Martha Decker
Theodore Hunt                       Enoch Hunt (Eliza’s 2nd husband) and Martha Decker
William H. Hunt                      Enoch Hunt and Eliza Menard
_______ Hunt                            Enoch Hunt and Eliza Menard
_______ Hunt                            Enoch Hunt and Eliza Menard

Even though Mr. Loveland described her as close to death in 1882, Eliza wasn’t quite ready to depart this world. She lived another seven years, shaking palsy and all. In the same affidavit (exhibit J) she revealed she was a God-fearing woman and testified that she “tried to train them [her children] up in the right way. And if they have had bad habits, I don’t know it.” One single affidavit in her son Lyman’s pension file helped to fill in a multitude of family members and revealed she had a rich life.

Way better than a few obituary sentences, no?


[1] “HUNT,” obituary, Sussex Register, 16 October 1889, unknown page, unknown column; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.
[2] “Death of William Hunt,” obituary (28 February 1918); Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.
[3] 1850 U. S. census, Essex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newark, p. 148B, dwelling 337, family 542, Enoch Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 447.
[4] 1860 U. S. census, Westchester County, New Jersey, population schedule, Morrisania, p. 309 (penned), dwelling 2126, family 2403, Enoch Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 878.
[5] 1870 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Andover, p. 1 (penned), dwelling 4, family 5, Eliza Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 889.
[6] 1880 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Lafayette Township, ED 180, p. 8 (penned), dwelling 52, family 54 & 55, William H. Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 September 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 798.
[7] Membership application, Marianna Hunt Wells, National no. 183172, on Ebenezer Hunt (1758-1814, New Jersey), approved 02 February 1922; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.
[8] “An Honored Veteran,” The Railroad Employee, June 1907, 6.
[9] Civil War and Later Pension Files. Department of Veterans Affairs. William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. WC 852,451. Affidavit of Zeziah Washer taken at Jersey City, New Jersey, 02 February 1887.
[10] Civil War and Later Pension Files. Department of Veterans Affairs. Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Form 3-012, Affidavit of Mrs. Eliza Hunt, exhibit J, taken at Branchville Junction, Sussex County, New Jersey, 05 September 1882.